Yes. Home cleaners are complex products made with penitential allergens, and even toxic ingredients.
Home-cleaning products marketed as "natural" can contain both allergens and toxic ingredients, too.
Allergic reactions can happen on your skin or in your airways – such as asthma. The more contact you have with allergens in your home-cleaning products, the more likely your body is to develop an allergy.
It’s why I recommend keeping your home-cleaning products simple. Use products that clean without all the extra ingredients (such as fragrances) that are usually allergens.
What are the most common allergen in home-cleaning products?
They are usually the fragrances.
“Fragrances are complex substances that contain hundreds of different chemicals and are the most common cause of ACD (allergic contact dermatitis) in the United States…….either to achieve an appealing scent or to mask unpleasant odors.” (1)
They are also often synthetic, which opens up another fact you need to know about harmful chemicals in your home-cleaning products – phthalates.
Phthalates are used as synthetic fragrances in home-cleaning products. (2) They are notoriously, harmful chemical-ingredients and have well-substantiated health impacts including endocrine disruption, impaired neurodevelopement in children and hypersensitivity reactions such as asthma. Phthalates pass through the placenta and breast milk, too. (3)
Preservatives are also allergens in many home cleaners, including some of the most popular, "natural" ones!
A number of the natural cleaners contain methylisothiazolinone, a powerful synthetic biocid and preservative in the isothiazolinone group. These are known contact-skin allergens capable of causing rashes. They are also formaldehyde releasing preservatives. (5)
What other chemicals are harmful in home cleaners?
Alkylphenols. These are popular surfactants present in home detergents and surface cleaners since the 1940s. They cause indoor air-contamination and are absorbed through skin, too. They accumulate in the body and can mimic estrogen. The most common alkylphenol in home cleaners is 4-t-nonylphenol (4).
Household cleaners become part of the indoor air quality of your home.
Household chemicals become important to your home’s indoor air quality. As winter’s chill leads you to close up your windows, what’s circulating in your home becomes more important than ever, especially in today’s modern and well-insulated homes.
What’s circulating in your indoor air impacts the entire household. Infants and children have the biggest exposure due to their activities and physiology.
How do you choose safe and non-toxic home cleaners?
First and foremost, using home-cleaning products without fragrance is smart, but it’s not easy to know if your product is truly made without fragrance.
Labeling is confusing because “unscented” sometimes means there is still a masking-fragrance in a product, and thus, the product is not truly fragrance-free. Masking-fragrances are potential problems, too. Look for “fragrance-free” labeling.
Fragrance-free is not a guarantee of hypoallergenic because products may still contain botanical ingredients that are potent allergens!
Scented cleaning-products expose you to synthetic fragrances, and those include the notorious phthalates. (2) Naturally-scented products expose you to botanical essential oils that can be allergens, too.
What do I, as a dermatologist who treats patients with sensitive skin, allergies and eczema, recommend for safe, home cleaning?
Natural cleaners that are truly natural, non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
I offer these simple and truly hypoallergenic, natural home-cleaners because of an eczema patient I cared for who was highly allergic to her home-cleaning products. After spending many months trying to help her find cleaners that cleaned her home but did not trigger her eyelid dermatitis, I decided to take control.
That’s why my Home Cleaners have NO fragrance, NO preservatives, NO VOCS – just natural oils turned into soap that cleans your surfaces, your clothing and anything else you need to clean.
Yes, eyelid dermatitis (rough, wrinkled, itchy skin around your eyes and on your eyelids) can be caused by your home spray-cleaning-products. The allergens can also be carried to your eyelids from your hands after you use a home cleaning product to do your housecleaning chores.
Eczema and home-cleaning products are often linked! Use hypoallergenic home cleaning products if you have eczema.
Luz Fonacier, MD, et. al., Contact Dermatitis: A Practice Parameter – Update 2015, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Vol 3 (3), Supplement S1-S39, May-June 2015, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaip.2015.02.009
Zota AR, Singla V, Adamkiewicz G, et al, Reducing chemical exposures at home: opportunities for action, J Epidemiol Community Health 2017;71:937-940. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jech-2016-208676
Nguyen Quoc Vuong Tran, Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Environmental Toxicants: Epigenetics as an Underlying Mechanism, Int J Genomics, May 8, 2017 doi: 10.1155/2017/7526592
Ruthann A. Rudel, et. al., Endocrine disrupting chemicals in indoor and outdoor air, Atmos Environ, 2009 Jan 1 43(1): 170-181, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2008.09.025
- Laura Malinauskiene et. al., Formaldehyde may be found in cosmetic products even when unlabeled, Open Med, 2015; 10(1) 323-328 July 7, 2015, doi: 10.1515/med-2015-0047